When it comes to the return on your rental investment as a landlord, there are countless factors that are entirely outside of your control.
Your rental yield can fluctuate year to year and will inevitably be influenced by macro-economic forces such as employment growth (or decline), mortgage interest rates and availability, supply changes that will impact the inventory against which your rental is competing, the performance trends of local school systems, population growth, and numerous other factors.
Investing in rental property is a long-term play, so as an investor you shouldn’t get caught up on the market forces that are outside of your control. However, it is important to adapt to changes in the market and position your rental property for success—while lot of macro-level factors are outside your control, there are a number of elements that impact your profitability that you can control: One of the easiest ways to influence the profitability of your property is by boosting its curb appeal prior to marketing to new tenants.
You are in complete control of your property’s curb appeal: leverage this to your advantage and you’ll see outsized returns on your investment.
First impressions are extremely important, and if you want to leave a powerful impression on prospective tenants who will love your home just like you do, then you should invest in improving the curb appeal of your property.
If you want to see the sheer scale of the ROI we’re talking about, check out our article where we modeled out a few renovation scenarios. You may be surprised to see how significant the potential profits can be!
If you want some ideas for cost-effective improvements that you can leverage at your rental property, or if you need some help finding the right contractors for the job, you should reach out to a local property management company. A property management company with experience and connections in your local market will be able to advise you on the best approach, give you strategic guidance on the types of renovations that will produce the highest return on your investment, and can even handle the whole process for you from start to finish.
Before you get started on your project, get some inspiration by checking out our list below with some tips for simple curb-appeal improvements you should consider.
Here are 12 cost-efficient ways to boost the curb appeal of your rental property:
1. Frame your entryway with some tasteful landscaping
Of course you’ll want to take care of the bare essentials first, like making sure your lawn is freshly mowed and your hedges are trimmed. But beyond the basics, think about how you can use your landscaping as a way to make a great first impression. Lay down some fresh mulch and plant some perennial flowers that can keep your garden looking great for years to come.
You may also want to consider putting out some potted plants on each side of your front door, to frame the entryway in a way that welcomes you to the home. A dose of symmetry goes a long way to creating a stately and well-composed presence, and the easiest way to accomplish this is to frame your doorway with an elegant potted plant on each side.
2. Make your front door POP with a fresh color
A freshly-painted front door can make a big first impression on your prospective tenants. The best news is that this awesome curb appeal enhancement doesn’t need to break the bank: it will typically cost between $8 to $14 per square foot to paint a front door. According to a study from Zillow, the color of your front door makes a big difference in the perceived value of the home: houses with front doors in shades of black (ranging from charcoal to jet black) sold for $6,271 more than the estimated value in 2018.
3. Upgrade your lighting with sconces or lanterns
You can cost-effectively add a stately appeal to your home’s entryway by installing exterior lighting to frame your front door. Adding dual sconces or lanterns can be a tasteful decorative touch, and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. The cost can range from $50 to $250+ per light fixture, with plenty of beautiful options to be found in the sub-$100 price range. In terms of bang for your buck, this is one of the simplest ways to add stately character to your exterior at a very minimal expense.
4. Illuminate your walkway
Give your home an evening curb appeal boost by illuminating your walkway with some landscape lighting. The easiest option is to find solar-powered landscape lights, so you don’t need to worry about messy wiring. You can commonly find solar landscape lights starting at $30 for a set of 6. In our opinion, that’s a great value considering the massive curb appeal boost you’ll get from a well-lit and welcoming entrance. Not only will landscape or walkway lighting make your home look great, but it also improves safety by illuminating a footpath to your front door.
5. Make your home glow with some exterior spotlights
If you’ve already invested in the lighting essentials (wall fixtures and landscape lights), consider taking it to the next level with some exterior spotlighting. You can add serious curb appeal by highlighting your home’s accent features with soft exterior spotlighting. You’ll want to find spotlights in a warmer hue, to create a welcoming presence in the evening. You’ll find that tours for prospective tenants often happen in the evening, once people are home from work, so this is a great opportunity to make a big first impression with a lasting impact.
6. Go vintage, not outdated, with your mailbox
The mailbox is a frequently overlooked, but easily upgradeable and highly visible, aesthetic component of your home. Very few homeowners think about their mailbox when considering curb appeal upgrades, which is precisely why it’s a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd. A vintage-style cast iron mailbox, like the one pictured above, can be a very elegant touch. Based on the appearance, people may expect that it costs a pretty penny, but the hidden secret is that it doesn’t cost much more than a standard mailbox! You can find a nice vintage-style cast iron mailbox starting at $70, and they’ll go up to $300 for a larger and more ornate model.
7. Give your garage door a makeover with new hardware
Much like the mailbox, the garage door is often neglected as a utilitarian afterthought. Since most of your neighbors are content with plain garage doors, you have an opportunity to add character to your home and make it stand out from the crowd by installing some very inexpensive garage door hardware! Replacing a garage door can cost a small fortune, but you can actually completely upgrade the appearance of your garage door without replacing a single thing.
Add some antique-style hinges and handles, and it will add some serious curb appeal. You can find a plethora of affordable garage door hardware options for under $50. Insider Tip: if you want to leave your hammer in the toolbox, you don’t even need to do any installation; just use magnetic hardware and stick it on! No one will even know the difference (and your secret is safe with us).
8. Make a high-tech first impression
In 2020, the “smart home” movement has been taken to a whole new level. Consumer expectations are rapidly evolving, and with the rise of smart home products inside the home, there has also been a major uptick in “smart locks” for your front door. The prices range from $200 to $500, and the features are endless: video doorbells, keyless entry, remote unlock capability, biometric security, automatic timers, and more. Not only can these products keep your home safely secured, but they also add a crucial element of convenience that is important to the modern resident.
9. Add depth and contrast by installing shutters
Installing shutters is one of the biggest single improvements you can make for your exterior. It can add visual depth to your façade, and an appealing layer of contrast that will catch the eye. Shutters can add some serious curb appeal for your home, but you’ll want to do your research before embarking on this project because the costs can vary significantly. If you have standard dimension windows and you’re not looking for anything particularly fancy, you could spend $20 per panel (plus installation).
However, if you begin looking into the higher-end options, which can include custom hardware, motorized mounts, and rarer wood materials, the costs could quickly escalate to over $1,000 per panel. For a rental property, we’d recommend finding a durable option that will require minimal upkeep and last a long time, without splurging on luxurious custom aesthetic options.
10. Add some new life by installing window box planters
Tasteful and lively window box planters can be a great way to add color and depth, greatly improving your home’s curb appeal. You can style them to your choosing by selecting your favorite flowers, and your future tenants can add a touch of their own style once they move in (without doing any damage to your home!).
This is a great way to encourage tenants to personalize their living experience and truly make your house their home, by planting some of their own favorite flowers every season. Window box planters are very inexpensive, costing around $60 per fixture, and they are incredibly easy to install on your own.
11. Spruce up your windows by painting the trim
You can completely revamp your façade with some strategically-applied trim paint around the windows. Use a color that contrasts with your siding to add some extra depth to the façade. These little details can completely transform the look of your home and give it a major curb appeal boost. You can take it a step further by painting the window trim in two shades, a darker color for the inner trim and a lighter color for the outer trim—this will give your home a timeless aesthetic while standing out from the other homes on your block.
We recommend you hire a professional for this job, since you’ll want to make sure the old paint is carefully sanded away before applying the fresh paint. The cost can range from $1 to $4 per linear foot, depending on the type of trim (ornate molding costs more than flat panels, for example) and the difficulty of reaching the trim (second story trim may require a ladder, so it will cost a bit more).
12. “Brand” your house with bold, upgraded numbers
Add a branded element to your home to make it stand out. Not only it is a legal requirement to display your house number (so emergency responders can locate your house), but it’s a great opportunity to add a high-end touch to your home and boost your curb appeal. There are plenty of options to choose from, including modern backlit options and bold metallic options, so make sure to choose a style that meshes nicely with the aesthetic of your home. If you have a historic property, then perhaps a tasteful wooden option would be suitable. If your home is more modern, you should check out some of the backlit options which could complement the style quite well.